HoxB8 requires its Pbx-interaction motif to block differentiation of primary myeloid progenitors and of most cell line models of myeloid differentiation

Oncogene. 2001 Sep 6;20(39):5440-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1204710.


HoxB8 was the first homeobox gene identified as a cause of leukemia. In murine WEHI3B acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells, proviral integration leads to the expression of both HoxB8 and Interleukin (IL-3). Enforced expression of HoxB8 blocks differentiation of factor-dependent myeloid progenitors, while IL-3 co-expression induces autocrine proliferation and overt leukemogenicity. Previously, we demonstrated that HoxB8 binds DNA cooperatively with members of the Pbx family of transcription factors, and that HoxB8 makes contact with the Pbx homeodomain through a hexameric sequence designated the Pbx-interaction motif (PIM). E2a-Pbx1, an oncogenic derivative of Pbx1, both retains its ability to heterodimerize with Hox proteins and arrest myeloid differentiation. This observation prompts the question of whether E2a-Pbx1 and Hox oncoproteins use endogenous Hox and Pbx proteins, respectively, to target a common set of cellular genes. Here, we use four different models of neutrophil and macrophage differentiation to determine whether HoxB8 needs to bind DNA or Pbx cofactors in order to arrest myeloid differentiation. The ability of HoxB8 to bind DNA or to bind Pbx was essential (1) to block differentiation of factor-dependent myeloid progenitors from primary marrow; (2) to block IL-6-induced monocytic differentiation of M1-AML cells; and (3) to block granulocytic differentiation of GM-CSF-dependent ECoM-G cells. However, while DNA-binding was required, the HoxB8 Pbx-interaction motif was unnecessary for preventing macrophage differentiation of ECoM-M cells. We conclude that HoxB8 prevents differentiation by directly influencing cellular gene expression, and that the genetic context within a cell dictates whether the effect of HoxB8 is dependent on a physical interaction with Pbx proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Homeodomain Proteins / chemistry*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology*
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Monocytes / cytology
  • Myeloid Progenitor Cells / cytology*
  • Myeloid Progenitor Cells / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / cytology
  • Pre-B-Cell Leukemia Transcription Factor 1
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • HOXB8 protein, human
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Hoxb8 protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-6
  • Pbx2 protein, mouse
  • Pre-B-Cell Leukemia Transcription Factor 1
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • PBX1 protein, human
  • DNA